Asus SBC-04DIS-U Slim External Blu Ray Reader

Viewing results - Blu Ray and DVD

Image Quality Tests
Note that ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 3 was used for playback, rather than the included Cyberlink software. This was in order to bit-stream the high definition DTS-HD MA and Dolby True-HD audio to the AV receiver. I did also test using Cyberlink and can confirm that this only worked on all Blu Rays used with the latest version of Cyberlink PowerDVD version 9.
DVD Viewing Results
DVD viewing was a decent experience with the Asus SBC-04DIS-U. The drive easily kept up the playback speeds needed for DVD. I also want to note that the drive span up all the test DVD's very quietly and I could barely hear it whilst in operation. This is in contrast to the Blu Ray playback.
Quality was good using both the Nvidia and the TV's own scaling. Images were solid and identical to that on the internal LiteOn SATA drive in the test PC.
Blu Ray Viewing results
The real test came when I loaded up a Blu Ray.
Grabbing Monsters Inc first I waited for the disc to load. With my fairly powerful desktop PC, I didn't have to wait long and the SBC-04DIS-U span up the disc. Monsters Inc is a fantastic disc to watch on Blu Ray and using the Asus SBC-04DIS-U Slim External Blu Ray Reader was no different. Each hair on Sulley's head was perfectly clear as it should be and The Abominable Snowman, Mike Wazowski, Boo, Waternoose and the rest of the scary crew were all rendered perfectly.
Moving on to my better half's copy of Twilight led me to some more in-depth analysis of the performance of the drive. At points where the director adds grainy effects on the movie I noticed a very (very) slight drop in quality compared to a stand-alone player. Spinning up Quantum of Solace showed the same slight added grainy-ness to the picture. I found it difficult to decide if this was the drive itself or the processing from the graphics card, especially as DVD performance was identical to the internal DVD player.
Sound-wise there was nothing you could quibble about with the Asus player. It delivered a full high definition bit-stream direct from the disc with no issues at all.
disc information
Perfomance-wise the drive itself had no issues at all. I did not notice any slow down until I forgot the PC was playing a Blu Ray on my plasma TV and decided to start encoding a movie for my iPhone! Surprisingly, this did give me some slight skipping in the video, but was hardly the drive's fault.
As previously stated, the drive really does spin up quite a lot when watching Blu Ray's and this almost gets enough to ruin some of the quiet bits of the film.
Blu Ray quality was very good but I felt lacked 'something' I can only describe as 'pop' in the image. However, compared to a good quality Blu Ray player such as my Panasonic DMP-BD35, the Asus SBC-04DIS-U stands up incredibly well and does a great job of delivering high def content.
Now onto the conclusion. 
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Most Recent Comments

02-09-2009, 17:26:58

Outrageous !

Have to be fair, they're taking quite a micky on the pricing of this unit. Whilst I can understand the styling and that it's probably aimed at those who either have a laptop/netbook without, or media center that's currently dvd only, - look stylish - but even so £150.

I'd have to look at a BR-ROM/DVDRW being in the region of £50 and a caddie/adapter being £20?? ish max/min. It's £80 or so worth of style, and as u say, probably lacking in the bundle department - although it'd probably be contract based. But having said that, there are some awesome BBC documentaries, atleast, that would show-off the capabilities. Other than that, if it was a BR-RAM.. it would turn it into an awesome piece of kit.

I look at the construction and I'm thinking a laptop drive in a fancy caddie.

I don't know that an audio connector would work in same way either. For a pc, many of them have atleast coax inputs, I know not many laptops do.

I dunno, good reviewage, but it's a big spend for not so much imo. Could be so much better for the same price I feel.Quote

02-09-2009, 17:55:07

Not sure what you mean about audio connector matey? Using the drive as a laptop addition you'd only be benefitting from the HD video and have to sacrifice the audio imo

If you look at laptop Blu Ray drives, the cheapest around is £120ish I believe (linky), so that ups the price somewhat. However, I do agree (and it's reflected in the conclusion), that the price is too much. Around £100 would most likely be a fairer price for a stylish 'lifestyle' device that plays Blu Ray.Quote

02-09-2009, 18:09:21

I was thinking about something as simple as a pin pass-thru for the hd audio pins u get on bare units. Pins to a phono socket or something. Could just be a jack, and supply u with a jack->phono lead.

Bit confusing perhaps cos the player I was thinking of for £50 or so is like a pioneer regular pc one, not a laptop one. But that's taking all the looks out of the equation and just being practical I guess.

Laptop ones are still quite expensive, so u can see their expense in that department, and keeping in with their slim design, only a laptop one would suffice.Quote

02-09-2009, 18:36:32

Soz mate you've lost me. Currently the only thing that passes HD audio (bitstream) is an HDMI socket or the dual USB interface on this drive.

An AV receiver can decode HD audio and send it out via an analogue connection (RCA out), but the HD audio has to be decoded by the Amp first and usually this is used to pass to a power Amp in a Pre-Power Amp situation with high end audio to power high end audiophile speakers. A PS3 or Blu Ray player (or one of these link link two cards) can decode HD audio then pass 6 channels (5.1), out using uncompressed linear PCM via Digital Optical or Digital Coaxial.Quote

03-09-2009, 05:25:41

Yeah on that drive, but the units essentially have the ability (although not wired up in most cases) to have the pins available ala the drive I got:

With these, similar to oldfashioned ide drives and their audio outputs, u can tap into these sources to channel a socket that a user can use for a decoder or whatever.

Generally, units since the adoption of SATA, have not put the headers for these onto the pcb and u'll just get a SATA & Power ports. Even tho the solder points are there.

As I mentioned tho, this would be an alternative build as ASUS have gone down the latop-in-a-caddie approach.Quote

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